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14 May 2019 | Story Thabo Kessah | Photo Tsepo Moeketsi
Prof Ashafa
Prof Ashafa’s research documents plants used by the Basotho in the management of different ailments.

The Phytomedicine and Phytopharmacology Research Programme (PPRP) in the Department of Plant Sciences on the Qwaqwa Campus researches the biological effects of medicinal plants used in the folkloric medicine of the Eastern Free State, particularly to explore the values and contribution of indigenous knowledge systems (IKS) towards broader scientific research. This is according to the programme’s principal investigator and researcher, NRF C2-rated researcher, Professor Anofi Ashafa. 

 “Our research is mainly aimed at documenting plants used by the Basotho in the management of different ailments and to further discover, isolate, and purify active phytoconstituents that are responsible for disease curation or amelioration, thereby assisting in the global promotion of accessible and affordable medication in developing countries,” said Prof Ashafa. 

Since 2012, the PPRP has worked extensively on Basotho medicinal plants (BMP) used as antimicrobials, antioxidants, antidiabetics, antitubercular, anticancer, anthelmintic, and antidiarrheal agents, starting from biological activities up to the  evaluation of the toxicity of these plants for the kidney, liver, and heart functions in order to establish safe dosage parameters. These activities have led to the discovery of four potent antidiabetic biomolecules that are awaiting the processes of patency and commercialisation. Additional outputs include 104 published peer-reviewed articles , 7 postdoctoral fellows, 6 PhDs, 9 master’s, and 16 honours graduates. 

“Our research informs teaching and the development of expertise in ethnobotany, 
phytomedicine, and phytopharmacology in order to contribute to the National Development Plan (NDP) through human capacity development, skills, and knowledge transfer.

The group is also investigating some medicinal plants on the endangered red list of the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI), through micropropagation and field trials as well as proposing conservation strategies to preserve these valuable species.

The PPRP consists of postdoctoral fellows, PhD, master’s, and honours students and research is done in collaboration with several local and international universities as well as the Agricultural Research Council of South Africa. 


News Archive

A Strategic Maths and Science Education Initiative at the Qwaqwa Campus
2009-11-17

Representatives of the Natural and Agricultural Sciences and Education Faculties as well as the Qwaqwa Campus Management recently convened a workshop on a strategic new Maths and Science Education Initiative to be offered from the Qwaqwa Campus of the University of the Free State (UFS). The two faculties have agreed to partner in order to offer programmes that will contribute to the development of well-qualified Maths and Science teachers and the improvement of Maths and Science education in local schools.

The programme will be based on a strong research foundation and will also involve extensive partnerships with schools in the Qwaqwa region. Amongst others, the initiative will include the possible introduction of a new programme specifically targeting prospective Maths and Science teachers, as well as the development of modules that focus on the critical content that needs to be covered in the curriculum at Grades 10 to 12.

The initiative emerges against a background of major shortages in science and technology skills in the country, poor performance in Maths and Science in South African schools, a lack of resources such as laboratories in schools, concerns about the content knowledge of qualified teachers and the high demand for Maths and Science teachers, together with very small numbers actually qualifying in these areas. A committee with representatives from both faculties as well as representatives from the Qwaqwa and Main Campuses has been formed to take the planning for this initiative forward. A full business plan is due to be completed in early 2010.

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